We all know that the Metro West and coastal areas of Massachusetts have been hit hard with two massive snow storms in 2011, and that most cities and towns have already blown through their allocated budgets, and have since requested to take more taxpayer money, which prompts the question that has been asked frequently: why continually go over budget when you’ve been dealing with snow removal for centuries in Massachusetts?
Each year, our budget is faced with a puzzling question: why do DPW department heads continually ask for so little, when the numbers indicate they always need more? Especially since the past two snow removal jobs in Westwood, MA have been sub-par at best, even with crews supposedly working long hours day and night to resolve the many transportation issues we face with the Public Schools, and our residents venturing out to work each day.
The past snow removal that occurred on January 12, 2011, was particularly atrocious. Streets were left partially plowed for up to three hours, driveways faced mountain-esque blockages due to loader-plowing, and main roads (such as Route 109) were almost un-drivable for almost two days. The DPW, from hearing radio communication, were down a few trucks due to malfunctioning sanders, which is understandable. However, contractor CJP & Sons, responsible for most of Precinct 4, were fully operational, yet very unprofessional, slow, and unresponsive to the needs of those wanting to drive to work, or leave their homes.
After two appalling snow removals by Millis, MA based CJP & Sons, I question the town’s ability to award contracts to qualified bidders. These comments come in lieu of seeing the superior snow removal of the neighboring towns of Dedham, Norwood, Walpole, and Medway. Now, I am not sure who contract plows for the aforementioned towns, but they sure did a far better job. For all I know, CJP & Sons could just be over extended, but if they are, they should have the sense to tell the town of Westwood they will not be able to perform quality snow removal.
With over 32 years of knowledge from a family member who worked everything from small snowplows to Caterpillar front-end loaders in the snow, I know the difference between a quality job, and an unqualified or over extended crew.
Let’s right this situation by re-visiting our plowing contracts for 2012, and make sure they can get the job done. Especially since our taxes are rising at least 6% more in 2012 (without the new library project figured in), due to Westwood’s mistake of allowing developer CC&F to demolish buildings before funding was secured for the Westwood Station Project.
To combat this residential tax increase, I 1). Advise residents to file for a tax abatement at town hall, and 2). Encourage residents to share their ideas on how we may attract more commercial development to the Economic Development Advisory Board, on which I sit. From here, we can start developing a more inclusive discussion to allow everyone to share their solutions for a better Westwood, where each resident can have a say in what they think is best for the town’s health and overall growth.
In the future, I hope we all can enjoy a problem free commute in the snow, and a lower tax burden next time around. With better ideas and thought processes from our Board of Selectman and other elected officials, we can all benefit in the end.
Makes me wonder why I decided not to run for Selectman.
The full post can be found at: http://bit.ly/agnewsnowremoval